The Redo Power of EMDR

“Nice and soft,” my pediatrician proclaimed after palpating my two-year-old belly as I lay naked on the exam table.  Once again he could not find that solid stone, the pyloric ‘tumor’ or ‘swelling’ of the pyloric muscle, that shortly after birth, had stopped my stomach from working. “Could she have problems down the road, say when she’s fifty?” my mother asked. “I don’t think so. We’ll keep checking, of course.” To many, this conversation may seem benign, but for me, the one whose body they were referring to, danger took root.

At any point, I could be in trouble, I understood. At any time, I could be stricken, close to death, feeling unbearable pain. The ‘tumor’ might return. I don’t recall thinking these thoughts. I do recall panicking. I do remember tensing up, my breath and mind freezing. I do recall alarm bells going off in my head and a thousand unformed questions battling one another. Emotionally, I lifted off the planet, helpless, alone, and afraid for my life. Emotionally, I got stuck. When would it be back?, I worried.

In EDMR therapy sixty-four years later, those questions about what I’d heard as a child were still emotionally alive. As the wand whipped back and forth, I found myself back on the exam table but this time, in a reflective mode, not actually in the experience itself. A nurturing, older self stood next to toddler-me, my mother absent. Toddler-me to nurturer: “So my body could attack me again? Could I end up in the hospital?  Could I die?  So I need to be hyper-aware as to whether it’s come back?” My hands shot up to my throat. “Will I be intubated again?” These thoughts and emotions rapid- fired out of me as the wand swung left and right. The nurturer, that more adult part of me, answered with equanimity and grace: “Don’t worry. You are fine. You won’t be sick again. The operation fixed you. You are free!”

Then, as the wand continued metronoming, I was my child-self in kindergarten, running without hesitation to play in the doll house and next, to the sand box, unburdened, without that constant cautiousness and dread I’d always felt–without the fear of death weighing on my shoulders. I was light and happy, gravitating toward whatever stirred my fancy–fleet and spontaneous. Happy!  EMDR  interrupted that terror that the early conversation between my mother and the doctor and the consequent unasked questions spawned. A new neuronal brain loop formed, sparking movement toward a new way of being in the world. Such is the power of EMDR to undo and redo! The power of EMDR to heal.

–by Wendy Patrice Williams

Infant Surgery and Post Traumatic Stress – some key references

Inadequate pain management

New York Times – Researchers Warn on Anesthesia, Unsure of Risk to Children – http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/health/researchers-call-for-more-study-of-anesthesia-risks-to-young-children.html (link)

Jill R Lawson, Standards of Practice and the pain of premature Infants – (pdf file incl additional articles) – http://www.recoveredscience.com/ROP_preemiepain.htm (link to Jill Lawson’s article only)

McGrath Patrick J – Science is not enough, The modern history of pediatric pain – Moderna historia dolor pediatrico.pdf – (file) – http://www.dolor.org.co/articulos/MOderna%20historia%20dolor%20pediatrico.pdf (link)

Pail’s Health Blog Nov 2010 – A Story of Babies in Pain and the Barbaric Malpractices of Medicine – http://www.theherbprof.com/blog/?p=66 (link)

Louis Tinnin, Awake and Paralyzed during Surgery – http://ezinearticles.com/?Awake-And-Paralyzed-During-Surgery&id=182472 (link)

Dvorsky, George, Why are so many Newborns still being denied Pain Relief? – http://gizmodo.com/why-are-so-many-newborns-still-being-denied-pain-relief-1755495866 (link)

Infant Memory – Body (or Somatic) Memory

Chamberlain David B – CV & publications.pdf – (file)

Website – Birth Psychology – A Bibliography of Dr David B Chamberlain’s writings – https://birthpsychology.com/journals/volume-28-issue-4/chamberlain-bibliography (link)

David B Chamberlain, Babies are Conscious – (file)

David B Chamberlain, Babies Don’t Feel Pain – a Century of Denial in Medicine http://www.nocirc.org/symposia/second/chamberlain.html – (link)

Levine, Peter A, Waking the Tiger – Healing Trauma, North Atlantic Books, 1997 (book title)

Van der Kolk, Bessel, The Body Keeps the Score – (book & summary article title) http://www.franweiss.com/pdfs/sensorimotor_vanderkolk_1994.pdf (link)

Van der Kolk, Bessel, Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma – http://www.shrinkrapradio.com/436.pdf (link)

Van der Kolk, Bessel, Developmental Trauma Disorder – (book & summary article title) http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/Preprint_Dev_Trauma_Disorder.pdf (link)

Van der Kolk, Bessel, The Limits of Talk – http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/networker.pdf (link)

PTSD from Infant Trauma

K J S Anand & P R Hickey, Pain and its Effects in the Human Neonate and Fetus – http://www.cirp.org/library/pain/anand/ (link)

The New York Times, 24 Nov 1987, Philip M Boffey, Infants’ Sense of Pain Finally Recognized – http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/24/science/infants-sense-of-pain-is-recognized-finally.html (link)

The New York Times Magazine, 10 Feb 2008, Annie Murphy Paul, The First Ache, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/magazine/10Fetal-t.html?_r=1&ex=12 (link)

Monell, Terry – When Pediatric Surgery causes Permanent Damage.docx (file)

Louis Tinnin – Infant Surgery without Anesthesia 130707.docx (file) – https://ltinnin.wordpress.com/ and https://ltinnin.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/infant-surgery-without-anesthesia/  (link)

Wendy P Williams – Are Your Symptoms due to Infant Surgical Trauma? – http://restoryyourlife.com/ptsd-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-dr-louis-tinnin-infant-surgery-without-anesthesia-pyloric-stenosis/ (link)

Wendy P Williams – Ten things to remember about pre-verbal Infant Trauma – http://restoryyourlife.com/preverbal-infant-trauma-preverbal-memory-emotions-sensations-breath-anxiety/ (link)

National Institute of Mental Health (USA) – comprehensive introductory brochure on PTSD – https://infocenter.nimh.nih.gov/nimh/product/Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder/QF%2016-6388 (link to brochure)

Ten things People with PTSD-related Dissociation should know – http://healthiest.pw/10-things-people-with-ptsd-related-dissociation-should-know/ (link)

  • N B – Chamberlain, Dvorsky, Van der Kolk and some others listed here have other material online and/or for sale
  • N B – this List is a work in progress

– Fred Vanderbom

“No brain – no pain” That’s insane!

Confused09Can a baby remember trauma experienced in her or his first years?

In times past the answer was an immediate and insistent “No”.

Before about 1990 it was commonly believed that because virtually nobody can recall and describe any event from early childhood, let alone early infancy, be it happy or troubling, a baby makes and keeps no record of anything before what we can later recall and express in words.

This of course sounded very reassuring and comforting!

  • The serious mistakes some parents make when a baby is very young – hey!  “They leave no memory, no record, no damage.”
  • Family, life and health dramas which a little one survives – “No need to worry about it affecting baby.”
  • Separation from mother, adoption, foster relationships – “None of this will affect let alone harm a little one.”
  • Will we have our baby son circumcised “so he looks like his dad”?  “Go ahead, I’m fine, no worries!”
  • My baby needs life-saving surgery but anesthetising a baby is risky – “Just go ahead, she won’t really suffer.”
  • A baby’s screams (obviously from extreme pain) under the knife upsets a young theatre nurse – “Hey, he won’t remember anything.”

Continue reading ““No brain – no pain” That’s insane!”

Building greater awareness

This Blog is for people troubled because of infant pyloric stenosis – their baby’s or their own.

Patient & doctor03.jpgFor many people, pyloric stenosis (“PS”) is something they’ve never heard of, even though all of us probably know several people who have had it.

Most people who have experienced PS (either as a parent or close family member, or personally) have been able to put what they often say was their “most traumatic experience ever” behind them.  I suspect and hope that these folk are a “silent majority”.

However, there are many (I believe quite a sizeable minority) who are or have been deeply troubled by PS, either as the parents of a PS baby, or as a “survivor”. Continue reading “Building greater awareness”

To Be or Not Be …….. Grateful

Written by Wendy Patrice Williams on November 2, 2016

As adult survivors of infant surgery without anesthesia, it’s difficult to be angry about what happened to us early on. We feel grateful for having been helped and saved, and we should. The surgeons, the nurses, the staff, our parents, and families leaned in and lent a hand. We survived because of them. What’s not to be grateful for? Continue reading “To Be or Not Be …….. Grateful”

After infant surgery – untangling the emotional baggage

Shmool Roey 1612Last December my wife and I welcomed a friend and film-maker from the US.  I worked with him on a documentary he is making on a subject of common interest to all of us – the effects of infant surgery done when it was widely believed (esp. pre-1990) in the medical world that babies don’t feel or remember pain.  Yikes!  Yes, really.

My friend has interviewed several of us who had infant surgery in the “dark ages” and he is now recording interviews with several professionals who have written about or provide therapy for people affected by pre-conscious but unremembered (“somatic memory”) trauma.
We hope the result will be available Continue reading “After infant surgery – untangling the emotional baggage”